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MOTHS AND BUTTERFLIES avoid predation from birds by defenses based on visual and other signals that act alone or in concert with signals of distastefulness. For example, some adults advertise their distastefulness by means of warning or aposematic colors, or by patterns and colors mimicking those of unpalatable species, as in Miillcrian and Batesian mimicry (Rettenmeyer 1970). Other adults are camouflaged with cryptic or disruptive color patterns so that they blend with their background (Kettlewell 1973), or mimic a neutral object such as a leaf (Ford 1955). Visual stimuli may also be used aggressively by some Lepidoptera when disturbed to startle a predator, as when flash patterns or large eyespots located on hind wings are suddenly displayed from beneath the forewings (Blest 1957; Sargent 1976, 1990). Some butterflies and moths display eyespots conspicuously as part of a wing image resembling a reptilian or amphibian head (Stradling 1976). With the exception of aposematic colors, these visual defenses deceive or startle insectivores.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: January 1, 1995
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American Entomologist is a quarterly magazine that publishes articles and information of general entomological interest. The magazine publishes letters to the editor, columns, features, research, book reviews, and obituaries.